Former President Olusegun Obasanjo held a meeting with President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon in the first week of August to seek soft landing for an agitator for Yoruba Nation, Chief Adeniyi Adeyemo (a.k.a Sunday Igboho), a report by TheCable has revealed.
Apart from Obasanjo’s intervention, THISDAY checks revealed that prominent leaders of Yoruba have been lobbying the international community and British to prevail on the Government of Benin Republic to reject Nigeria’s request to extradite the embattled agitator.
These moves coincided with a revelation by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu penultimate Saturday that the people of South-west states “are working behind the scenes concerning Igboho’s apprehension in the Republic of Benin.”
Citing anonymous diplomatic sources, TheCable reported that Obasanjo was in Benin Republic in the first week of August 2021 and held a meeting with a Beninese leader on the travail of Igboho.
The report claimed that the former president travelled to Zanzibar, an island in Tanzania, on August 1 and re-routed to the Francophone country on his way back to Nigeria.
The report, further, claimed: “He was said to have travelled to Benin Republic in the guise of condoling with Nicephore Soglo who recently lost his wife – Roseline Soglo. Roseline died on July 25 at the age of 87 in Cotonou. Soglo was president of the Benin Republic from 1991 to 1996.”
According to the report, one of the diplomatic sources revealed that Obasanjo travelled to Zanzibar on August 1. Perhaps to conceal his trip, he re-routed to the Benin Republic. He was to condole with former President Soglo who recently lost his wife.
Another source cited by TheCable said: “He also met with Patrice Talon. The purpose of the meeting was to seek soft-landing for Sunday Igboho. He is asking the Beninese authorities to grant the embattled agitator asylum and not to return him to Nigeria. The former president intervened on the request of some south-west leaders.”
A prominent socio-cultural leader in the South-west last night confirmed the veracity of the report, claiming that the leaders of Yoruba had held a meeting with Obasanjo and pleaded with him to use his diplomatic channels to secure Igboho asylum in the Benin Republic.
The leader, who spoke anonymously with THISDAY, revealed that prominent leaders of Yoruba had been lobbying the international community to prevail on the Republic of Benin not to honour Nigeria’s request to extradite Igboho.
The leader said: “We have lobbied contacts in french government. We have also lobbied British Government. However, France has much influence on the Benin Republic. There is every indication that the Benin Republic will not extradite Igboho.
“Definitely, they will not extradite him because we pointed the attention of France to the judicial process in Nigeria. Under the present administration, the judicial process in Nigeria has been compromised.
“It is not wise to expose Igboho to face the compromised judicial process in a country where the government does not obey court orders. Most times, the court dances to the tune of the government.
“Even where the courts have been courageous, the government has ignored them. Nigeria does not have a regime that upholds the rules of democracy and transparent judicial process. And the process cannot be trusted.”
The leader pointed out that it was not difficult to convince the diplomatic community, especially Britain, France and the United States, given the antecedence of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s disregard to the rule of law and judicial decisions.
The leader explained that the representatives of these countries “too are living witnesses to the socio-political dynamics in Nigeria. We had interface with all embassies in Nigeria. We told them our own stand.
“We also told them the consequences for them. But they always look at the national interest before they make their decisions. We believe they cannot wait for Nigeria to explode before they act. We believe strongly that they will do whatever they can to salvage Nigeria,” the South-west leader said.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had invaded Igboho’s residence in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, killing two persons and arresting 12 supporters.
Subsequently, the operatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) had arrested Igboho at the Cadjèhoun Airport in Cotonou while attempting to flee to Germany after the operatives of the DSS raided his residence.
Igboho’s apprehension had ignited legal and diplomatic fireworks to secure the release of the embattled agitator from the custody of the Benin Republic.
With the intense lobby to secure Igboho’s release, Sanwo-Olu had disclosed that the governors of South-west “are working behind the scenes concerning the apprehension and prosecution of Igboho at the Republic of Benin.”
The governor had said although most of the strategies are not being made public, there are ongoing plans by southwest governors to address the situation.